Through two games of the opening round series in the Western Conference it has been all Golden State. They dominated Portland from start to finish on Wednesday night, April 19, to take a 2-0 lead in the series. A very impressive 29-point win leads us to one question: should the Golden State Warriors shut down star forward Kevin Durant for the remainder of the series?
— NBA Panel (@Nbapanel) April 20, 2017
Kevin Durant sat out the second game of the series with a left calf strain, which he suffered in the second half of the Warriors game one win. After spending time on the shelf this season with a knee sprain and bone bruise in his tibia, the Warriors shouldn’t take any risks with Durant. They have a clear talent mismatch even with Durant sidelined. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green can all hold their own in this series. Along with bench performances from Javale McGee, Ian Clark, and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors don’t need to rush Durant back. Durant showed what he can do in game one even after he had to sit towards the end of the game; he had 32 points on 12-20 shooting in game one. Throwing Durant back out in winnable series could be costly towards the end of the playoffs.
If Durant were to come back and tweak the calf strain even worse, it would put Golden State in serious jeopardy of winning another championship. The two stiffest tests will certainly be the San Antonio Spurs and, of course, last year’s champions the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors should be focused on giving Durant the time he needs to get as close to 100 percent as possible, although muscle injuries tend to linger for weeks.
— NBCSAuthentic (@NBCSAuthentic) April 21, 2017
The Warriors play just as well with Durant out of the lineup as when he’s in the lineup. Even though the statistics won’t be an indication for game two’s performance, the Warriors look like a more lethal team when Durant sits. Steph rolls back into last year’s freelancing style and picks teams apart from deep and Klay runs off screens and attacks the hoop. It just seems this Warriors team could possibly be better without Durant. As Lee Corso says, “Not so fast my friend!”, so we won’t make that leap just yet as the Warriors certainly need Durant to dethrone the Cavs. Golden State should be willing to take their time with him though, because it’s more important for him to be healthy for the Warriors and Cavs eventual matchups, than playing against the Portland Trail Blazers.